Texting, especially popular among youngsters, will soon be added to the list of activities that could get you pulled over while driving in Schenectady County.
The County Legislature voted Tuesday night 11-2 to prohibit writing, sending and reading text messages while behind the wheel, becoming the fourth county in New York to do so. The law takes effect March 1 and carries a fine of up to $150.
Legislature Chairwoman Susan Savage, who sponsored the bill, called the matter “an important public safety issue” she believes will save lives.
Republicans Joseph Suhrada and James Buhrmaster cast the two dissenting votes. Legislators Jeffrey McDonald and Robert Farley, the GOP minority leader, were absent.
On Wednesday, Suhrada dismissed the legislation as political expediency on Savage’s part.
“It was a cheap political stunt to draw people’s attention from the political nightmare the county finds itself in,” Suhrada said, adding the panel needs to refocus its attention on the county’s fiscal woes. “I’m all for keeping kids safe, but let’s get our priorities straight and cure our financial disease.” He believes that any texting ban needs to be statewide to have real impact on safety.
Savage doesn’t believe it makes sense to wait for the state. Local attorney Thomas Carr attorney believes the push to make texting while driving illegal is nothing more than feel good legislation. “The bottom line is that you can’t legislate common sense,” he said.
Texting is prohibited in the states of New Jersey, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Louisiana and Washington.